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Does your company have an employee handbook? Here's why your answer should be yes.

The New Year has begun. Just as people are setting resolutions to improve and succeed this year, so too should small to medium sized businesses. If your company does not have an employee handbook, your New Year's resolution should include creating one!

If updated regularly, an employee handbook is one of the simplest and most effective tools to create a happy, safe, and productive work environment. It is also a great tool to help prevent legal disputes.

According to the Huffington Post, here are five of the top reasons to have an employee handbook:

  1. It sets and outlines clear expectations for your employees. Your employees need to know how you expect them to conduct themselves at work. They need to know your policies on attendance and professional behavior in your company. You need to clearly outline what they can expect from you in terms of wages, holidays and benefits.
  2. It keeps your workplace safe. You can let your employees know that safety is your first concern, and how to keep the work environment safe for everyone. Your handbook should include what to do if they see something dangerous, or what to do if there is a fire, or if they experience harassment.
  3. It creates an open line of communication between you and your employees. Make sure you clearly communicate to your employees how they can file a complaint, who to speak to if they are injured on the job, or who they can speak to if they have day to day questions.
  4. It protects your company's valuable information. Your employees might not know that they cannot talk about all the information they hear at work outside of work. Some employers include a page for employees to sign to acknowledge that they won't share your company's valuable information.
  5. It helps protect you from discrimination lawsuits. Your employees need to know that you comply with anti-discrimination laws and that they can expect a fair work environment. Additionally, if you have made it clear that discrimination is not tolerated in your work environment, and how you expect your employees to comply with the anti-discrimination rules, you can stop bad behavior before it begins.

If you do not have an employee handbook, or if you have one, but it is not serving you well, it may be time to sit down and write one for your company. If you have questions about what to include in it and what to leave out , it may be a good idea to contact an employment law attorney who is experienced in helping small and medium sized companies succeed.

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